“Privilege I understand. But what’s this?” replied the distinguished looking client sitting opposite him.
“A simple exercise I have designed to help us understand both the problem and where the solution might lay.”
He client looked perplexed. “Hmm, simple you say.”
“Yes, simple. In the first column write down what you hoped to achieve by this alleged forged signature. This is the core of the fraud accusation.”
“I hired you to defend me. I am innocent and…”
“And we can do this hypothetically,” interrupted Malloy, “Would you be more comfortable with a hypothetical? Would you?”
The besuited client slumped in his chair. Slowly he lifted his head, set his chin, took a deep breath, and then resignedly began to write a few words followed by an amount in Pounds. This was a normal first column sequence, and outcome, in Malloy’s experience.
“In the second column list what you stand to lose should the allegations be proven in Criminal Court.”
The client paused for a long time twisting his pen repeatedly.
“Worst case scenario?” he asked. Malloy silently nodded. “Prison time?” was his next question.
“Allow five years,” Molloy stated. Beads of sweat popped up on his client’s brow.
The atmosphere went heavy. The second column took a long time to deliberately complete.
To avoid eye contact Malloy swivelled his chair and stared out the window. From his client long, thoughtful pauses between sentences while he alternately rubbed his chin and tugged his ear. The lawyer read this as a sign his prominent client was making an earnest, if painful attempt at recognising the downside fully.
“Third column,” the client eventually announced.
“Now write down how much you are prepared to pay to each of the aggrieved parties to make this go away. And then tally the figures for me.”
The client paused, tapped his pen on the table a few times, wrote slowly and then pushed the paper back to Malloy. With an appreciation for figures keened over 30 years of negotiating settlements, Malloy barely glanced at the words. His eyes focussed on the figures written in the third column.
Malloy leant forward. “The money amounts you have nominated are realistic. I can make this work. You have done well M’Lord.”
“Thank you” was the quiet reply.
Malloy made strong eye contact. “Discretion…we will have confidentiality agreements all round. Not a word to the media.”
“That would…uhm, be ideal, yes.”
“Your seat in the House of Lords will be safe M’Lord. You are a tribute to your Party. None of this will be an impediment to you receiving a knighthood. You have done well Sir.”
Malloy offered his right hand. His Lordship enjoyed Malloy’s strong, reassuring handshake saying with a knowing wink, “A knighthood for you in due course.”